New York, Broadway & the Queen of the Desert

The New York free­lance music scene, like the rest of the world, has under­gone dra­matic change in the past 10 to 15 years. At first glance it can seem over­whelming and a bit scary, but on closer inspec­tion we come to realize that this change is our best oppor­tu­nity for growth. It may seem a bit harsh, but the expres­sion “change or die” has never been more applicable.

Some of the most enjoy­able work I do is recording music in a studio. These recording ses­sions can be for a cd, a motion pic­ture sound­track, a tele­vi­sion theme or com­mer­cial. Coming out of col­lege, my goal was to become what was then called a “studio musi­cian”.  Everyday you were pre­sented with a new, fresh musical chal­lenge that you were seeing for the first time. A chal­lenge that you had to deliver on imme­di­ately. A pres­sure packed envi­ron­ment for sure, but also an extremely rewarding one at times. As the music busi­ness has evolved over the past decade, the role of the studio musi­cian has con­tracted. While I still get calls to record on a reg­ular basis, it’s def­i­nitely less.

For­tu­nately, New York has a thriving musical the­ater scene also known simply as “Broadway”. Most free­lance musi­cians in the com­mer­cial end of the busi­ness find them­selves playing in the pits of Broadway. You either have a full time posi­tion, which enables you to per­form 8 shows a week, or you are in the very tal­ented pool of sub­sti­tutes who fill in for the reg­u­lars when they take off to do other work.

Michael Davis w/Miss Under­standing (Nathan Lee Graham)

I am cur­rently playing a fan­tas­ti­cally funny show called “Priscilla — Queen of the Desert”.  And I do mean queen!! We’ve been run­ning for a over a year now and it’s been a blast. The band was expertly assem­bled by the esteemed con­tractor John Miller and is lead by a supremely tal­ented conductor/pianist/arranger named Jeff Klitz. Our band fea­tures some of the finest musi­cians in New York and I’m proud to be a part of it. Our cast is equally tal­ented and to describe them as vivid is an understatement.

Before Priscilla, I was for­tu­nate to be a part of the Tony award win­ning show Mem­phis. That show, which is still going strong, was a plea­sure to play and fea­tured an equally out­standing band. I am thrilled to have been a part of both of these stellar productions.

Musical the­ater is keeping the New York free­lance scene vibrant and we are all most grateful for it. See a show next time you’re in New York and take the time to say hi to the won­derful musi­cians who are making the expe­ri­ence of live the­ater all the more memorable.


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One Response to New York, Broadway & the Queen of the Desert

  1. Jon Brummel says:

    Con­grat­u­la­tions on the show– it’s great to see shows with live musi­cians featured.

    Is the “vir­tual orchestra” still a threat, and/or recorded shows– or has New York man­aged to stay “live” and well?

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